Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is said to be an eye disease that may affect prematurely born babies. It is believed to be caused by unsystematic development of retinal blood vessels which may lead to scarring and retinal detachment. Study authors have seemingly illustrated that via an eye test, doctors may detect babies who have the most odds to gain from an early treatment for ROP.

These long-term outcomes of the Early Treatment for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ETROP) study seems to corroborate that the visual gain of early treatment for chosen infants carries on till 6 years of age.

During pregnancy, the blood vessels of the eye may steadily develop to bring oxygen and necessary nutrients to the light-sensitive retina. If an infant in born prematurely, the development of the blood vessels may halt before they arrive at the rim of the retina. In these newborns, nonstandard, delicate blood vessels and retinal tissue may grow at the borders of the normal tissue. The anomalous vessels could bleed, thereby leading to scars that may pull on the retina. The major reason for visual impairment and blindness in ROP is said to be retinal detachment. Laser therapy or cryotherapy, by means of freezing temperatures, are claimed to be the most effectual treatments to decelerate or halt the development of abnormal blood vessels.

Study chair William V. Good, M.D., of Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco, commented, “The long-term study has given clinicians evidence that infants with ROP should be treated with different strategies based on an infant’s risk for a severe form of the disease, which can be determined through an exam at the bedside.”

Formerly, doctors treated babies with ROP when they seemingly gauged their danger for retinal detachment to be around 50 percent, an approach crafted through the NEI-supported Cryotherapy for Retinopathy of Prematurity study. Even though this was said to be a key discovery, several babies still went on to contract acute eye disease. Thus, the first phase of the ETROP study apparently wanted to find out if doctors could recognize infants at an elevated threat for progression of the disease and intervene early to enhance their vision.

In 2003, the ETROP study discovered that early treatment upon detection, as elevated risk for acute ROP, appeared to augment the vision and retinal health of particular babies following nine months. These infants supposedly encompassed dilated or twisted blood vessels in the retina and considerable development of new blood vessels, classified as Type 1 disease. Eyes with Type 2 ROP, or a more reasonable quantity of new blood vessel development, apparently did not gain from early treatment. Doctors could foresee which infants had the most chances to profit from early treatment by recognizing specific eye characteristics like the appearance and position of the blood vessels.

The present study included the same 370 children through 6 years of age, when experts examined their vision and checked the growth of their eyes. The nine-month study recommendations were said to be verified through 6 years. Type 1 eyes presumably gained from early treatment, and Type 2 eyes supposedly had similar outcomes with either early treatment or treatment at the usual time.

It was seen that roughly 75 percent of the early-treated Type 1 eyes were spared legal blindness as opposed to 67 percent of Type 1 eyes that were given treatment at the normal time. Of the Type 2 eyes that were vigilantly checked for disease progression by means of the standard protocol, supposedly more than half developed devoid of treatment.

The study was published in Archives of Ophthalmology.